11 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues and SAD

Are the winter blues getting you down? These tips will help with SAD or the winter blues, so you can get back to your happier self again.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over and in the US, we’ve entered the cold, dark January days in the thick of winter. I crave sunlight. I can feel the winter blues or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) creeping in. Today I pulled out the Vitamin D3. It gets tucked behind a few other things in the medicine cabinet in the summer. I’ve found that D3 helps me not feel the winter blues so intensely. I’ve put together a list of ideas that I’ve found help greatly with the dark cold days of winter. Hang in there, spring will come again soon!

1. As mentioned above, I take Vitamin D3 daily. The recommended dose varies from about 2,000-5,000 IUs per day, depending on how far north you live and how severe the SAD. I get it at Walmart, but most grocery stores and pharmacies should have it. You might want to check with your doctor to see if this is ok for you and what the most appropriate dose is for you. I like the way Vitamin D3’s benefits are explained in this article http://www.heathernicholds.com/nutrition/sad-vitamin-d.

2. Try to get outside for fresh air every day if possible. On mild temperature days, go for a short walk around the block. If it’s too cold for a walk, I try to run an errand so I’m at least getting out of the house and breathing in some fresh air when I’m getting in and out of the car.

3. Listen to happy and uplifting music. Check out this list of 33 Songs that will Uplift and Inspire You or 50 Songs to Get You Energized

50 Songs to give you energy and motivation
Photo by Greg Bishop flickr.com 

4. Stay warm. If I’m cold, I’m even more miserable emotionally and mentally. I have a portable indoor heater that I turn on when I’m in my living room. I love feeling the warm air. I also dress in layers and make sure my feet are comfy in slippers.

5. Use a full spectrum light box. It is recommended that you sit in front of it for 30-60 minutes per day. I have seen them on Amazon.com (affiliate link) and at Costco occasionally. They even have wake up alarm clock lights (affiliate link) that help simulate sunrise so you aren’t waking up in the dark.

Happy Light
Verilux Happy Light found on Amazon.com

6. Try not to hibernate the months away. Instead, go on weekly dates with your spouse or plan fun activities to do with friends. Meet up for dinner, go to a movie, bowling, skiing, ice skating, browse a bookstore, anything you love to do.

7. Buy some fresh flowers or a potted plant. Taking care of and enjoying the beauty of living plants and flowers uplifts my spirits and helps me look forward to the beauty of spring. They are a great way to push aside those winter blues. Flowers are known to reduce anxiety and help healing. I love this article “The Mental Health Benefits of Flowers“.

Happy tulips brighten a winter day
Photo by Lisa Stevens @ flickr.com

8. Enjoy hot chocolate while reading a good book or surfing the web. At least hot chocolate is one good thing to enjoy in the winter! Get a variety of fun flavors like mint chocolate, dark chocolate, candy cane, and chocolate with marshmallows. Snuggle up in a blanket by the fire place and you’ve got a nice relaxing winter afternoon pick-me up.

9. Dream about what you want to do for spring break or summer vacation and start making plans. Imagine great trips to take, preferably to warm places. Whether you take them or not isn’t necessarily the point, just researching and dreaming about warm and fun places to go makes me feel happier. I have a lot of places on my “bucket list”.

10. Exercise. My favorite way to exercise is on my stationary bike while watching a movie or surfing facebook on my kindle. Other great ways to exercise in your own home is with a treadmill, with DVDs, or youtube (pilates, yoga, zumba, etc). Going to the gym would be a great idea because then you are getting a little bit of sunshine and fresh air too.

11. Try to get enough sleep. Studies have shown that 8 hours of sleep is best. Not getting enough sleep can easily affect your mood and your health. It has been linked to depression. Try to go to sleep at around the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.

For more ideas, these two articles have helpful information about the winter blues or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). psychcentral.com and Wall Street Journal.

Title photo by luigi alesi at flickr.com

19 thoughts on “11 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues and SAD

  1. These are some very good ideas! My father bought a light box recently and it’s so nice having it in the living room. I also love reading a good book while drinking chai latte – so relaxing!

    Hugs from Denmark x
    Mathilde | MATHILDE JULIE

  2. These are some great tips. I’ve suffered from SAD for so many years and the biggest thing that helps me is just being outside – which is super easy for me since I live in Arizona!

  3. These are all great tips! I live in sunny Tucson now, so I get plenty of sun, even in the colder months. When I lived in Minnesota many of my friends and I would go to the tanning booth. I know it’s not the healthiest, but it sure helped!

  4. Lots of people even here in Australia have low vitamin D because the sun here is so hot and we have so much skin cancer. People tend to stay indoors more. I think I get the summer blues because, today for instance, it is SOOO HOT outside!

  5. I live in San Diego and still experience the winter blues:P It’s the day being so short that gets me. We are on the upswing with longer days now so I am in good spirits. But Dec gets to me. I cant’ even imagine living where there are inversions and constant cloud cover. I’d need a spectrum light for sure. I know… I’m spoiled:P

  6. Great piece. The dosage you are suggesting for D might be a little outdated. Anyone north of San Francisco should be taking that dose in winter months but if you have SADD your dosage likely should be higher. Consider having your levels tested by a naturopath who can then make recommendations based on results. I have some patients on 5000 iu a day. I love all your other recommendations. I bought tulips yesterday just for that reason!!

    • Thank you! I definitely think seeing a Dr. or naturopath for further recommendations is a great idea. I didn’t want to recommend a dosage on the high end for the average person since it might be better for them to get evaluated first.

  7. These are great tips on dealing with S.A.D. This used to really get me when I lived on the east coast. I now live in Los Angeles which is better, but I can still get the blues from the darkness. I forgot about the relationship between D3 and S.A.D.. I now take 5000 IU and I noticed that my mood has been more stable this winter. Thanks for the great reminder.

  8. I’ve never heard of a full-spectrum light box. That sounds like an excellent way to combat seasonal depression during the winter months. I will have to check those out. Thanks for the tips!

  9. great topic! I live in MN, and I have had friends move out of state because of the harsh long winters getting to them… What helps me a lot are buying indoor flowers and plants, bring spring inside!

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